Drick had been waiting in the almost featureless ‘central processing’ main lounge for greater than forty minutes and was beginning to run out of news headlines to read on social feeds. Drick had been focusing on seeing if there was any hint of who Marsh might have murdered from around the time they were picked up, but there were enough deaths that single incidents were not reported unless they had some additional news value.
Pity that Marsh didn’t kill someone important, or sensitive, or famous as then there would be a few dozen casts and maybe a punditry vlog with enough comment routes to trawl. But there was nothing. Part of Drick’s mind suggested it was unusual to find nothing at all, so was it a cover up? But Drick silenced that quickly. The likely explanation was that aside from the peculiarities around Marsh the death was something mundane.
Drick set a few tracers onto the news feeds as a matter of habit and then used a known trick of searching recent keyword bombs from some of the journalists and investigators they stalked. Might as well see if anyone else had found a trail.
Without meaning to Drick yawned emphatically just as one of the roller doors, there were twelve that led into this waiting room, rolled up with the slight scraping of a poorly fitted, or overused, panel.
The person that came through made Drick roll eyes and stare at the ceiling letting out a loud enough to be clearly noticed exasperated sigh.
“Well shaft me with a synth marrow, when I was given this task I should have known it would be you, Drick.” the voice was world weary and spoke of a lifetime of processing the sectors criminals and judiciary cases. “Shouldn’t you be out lurking in a hospital waiting area or vidding pervos at a todder gym?”
“Not my scene.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time though, would it?”
“Got to make a living. Got to make another credit to stave off the inevitable poverty charge.” Drick stood and looked the beleaguered public servant up and down. Clothes were pressed but had been worn all day on a long shift, they were also patched where wear and tear had taken their toll. Hair was thinner than the last time Drick had seen them and the waistline had a little more breadth.
“You could make an honest credit, you have a good enough mind and times have changed. You could always give judiciary a shot.”
“I’d love to shoot quite a few of you, but that’s going to get me into a little bit of trouble, or it might get me a medal.”
“Always with the smart mouth, Drick, always with the comeback. Without that attitude you could go a long way in the service.”
“You mean like you have?”
“Well that’s not fair, I managed to work my way sideways to a position where they mostly leave me alone, where they think I wont make a damn.”
“You make a damn,” Drick smiled, “good to see you Hooper. How’s the partner and podlings?”
“Tolerant for the first and taller, louder, faster, more expensive and mouthier for the latter two.” There was a sudden warm smile and Drick was hugged.
“You’re showing signs of wear and tear, Hooper,” Drick drew back a little but kept palms on a slightly out of shape waist, a little jiggle “this is a little less firm?”
“It’s the gravity difference, at my age I don’t have the belt adjust as much so the walking is easier in the lower gravity. But you know that makes everything looser.” A warm smile and eyes twinkling.
“That and all the cake you eat.”
“More partial to facon and feggs myself with a side of grits.” there was a laugh. Drick drew back and laughed a little as well. “So why are you here Drick?”
“Came in with someone, landed in section seventeen eleven. I thought it would be an easy percentage claim, K tag so definitely one with the chances of a payout for an either way answer. But it has a few unusual elements.”
“K-tag calls their self Marsh but has no ident-tag.” Drick noticed the almost surprised look. “I guess that news is spreading a little.”
“You sure I can’t pair you onto a different case? I got a triple murderer came in with the same load and so far no one has sniffed onto them. Would make your life a little easier.”
“Well that’s interesting. How likely is it to have a payout?”
“Very, there’s little doubt of it being an open and shut murder, they should process within forty eight hours. Company will have to payout but you’ll get a nice percentage on a triple, not as high as a denial but good enough.”
“Well, that’s too tempting isn’t it. I’ll take both of them,” Drick smiled.
“Damn it all Drick, you would be wise to drop this, it stinks. Something is wrong and that means that someone up high is going to get interested, you really want to lock horns with the JDI?”
“Wrong question, Hooper. It’s whether they are dumb enough to get in my way. There’s a bigger story and you know I like the truth.”
“Of course you do. That’s what got you where you are now.”
“So, what can you tell me about the killing?”